THE EXCHANGE RATE: AN UPDATE

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THE EXCHANGE RATE: AN UPDATE

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, August 12, 1999, p. 1

As was expected and predicted, the dollar’s exchange rate against the ruble stabilized two days after the dismissal of the Cabinet of Sergei Stepashin. On August 11, the exchange rate reached 24.9554 rubles to the dollar after the trading session of the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange.

Experts do not rule out the possibility of insignificant fluctuations of the exchange rate on the level of 25 rubles to the dollar by the end of the month.

The official exchange rate established by the Central Bank for August 12 was 24.96 rubles to the dollar.

CHAIRMAN OF THE KAZAKH NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE FIRED

Izvestia, August 12, 1999, p. 3

The unexpected dismissal of Nurtai Abykayev from the post of chairman of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan stunned the republic. The major secret service of the country was decapitated two months before the parliamentary election, the outcome of which official Astana regards as crucial.

The ousting was officially explained by the “unthorough investigation” of the scandal involving the sale of six MIG aircraft to a Czech company. Local political scientists, however, distrust the official explanations and offer their own hypotheses. For one thing, Abykayev was disliked by heads of other security ministries.

The resignation was preceded by the appearance of compromising materials which were dumped into Kazakh and Russian media. A special site was even set up on the Internet for the purpose. The worst data on it concerned the bank accounts of Abykayev’s wife in Switzerland and her expensive plastic surgery and dental operations.

Abykayev was replaced by Alnur Musayev, the same man who headed the Committee before Abykayev’s promotion to chairmanship nine months ago. The opposition is particularly worried about this return of the “old guard”: Musayev is known in Kazakhstan as a merciless fighter of dissent.

SITTING OF THE SIBERIAN AGREEMENT ASSOCIATION POSTPONED

Tribuna, August 12, 1999, p. 1

The sitting of the Siberian Agreement inter-regional association which was slated to take place in the city of Tomsk on August 13 has been postponed on the decision of the heads of all 19 Siberian territories which the association comprises. Initially, Premier Stepashin and some federal ministers were expected at the sitting and, naturally enough, the resignation of the government wrecked all the plans.

Viktor Kress, Tomsk Governor and Chairman of Siberian Agreement: Everything is going down the drain… It’s a throwback which will cost us several months of painstaking work.

There is an interesting coincidence here. Yevgeny Primakov was ousted two weeks before his intended appearance at the sitting of Siberian Agreement. Before him, Chernomyrdin had to resign several days before his flight to Siberia…

HUNGER STRIKE CONTINUES

Trud, August 12, 1999, p. 1

Two strikers were forced to terminate the nine-day hunger strike on the insistence of doctors.

Only 17 employees of Power Plant 2 in the city of Vladivostok are continuing the hunger strike to demand salaries for five months that they are owed by the Dalenergo company.

PUTIN AND THE SECURITY MINISTERS DISCUSS THE SITUATION IN THE CAUCASUS

ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, August 11, 1999, 15:00

Acting Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo: We are working in two directions all at once. The sites of the major events are the Tsumadin and Botlikh districts of Dagestan. As of this morning, situation in the Tsumadin district was stable, the district was almost free of gangs. As for the Botlikh district, anti-terrorist operations are continuing there right now. The guerrillas there are surrounded. Reinforcements from Chechnya are trying to fight their way to them, but our troops repel all attacks.

CHERNOMYRDIN’S MOVEMENT TO SUPPORT PUTIN

Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, August 11, 1999, 14:00

On August 11, acting Premier Vladimir Putin failed to turn up at the meeting of the Federation Council on time because his consultations in the White House took more time than he had expected. Specifically, Putin met with Viktor Chernomyrdin, leader of the Our Home is Russia (NDR) movement.

Putin and Chernomyrdin discussed the economic situation in this country and the general situation in the light of the upcoming parliamentary election. Chernomyrdin voiced his opinion that the government’s responsibility for the situation in this country is especially increasing now, on the eve of the election.

After the meeting Chernomyrdin emphasized that the composition of the future Cabinet had not been discussed. He believes, however, that Putin’s government will last until the presidential election of 2000. Chernomyrdin has no doubt that during the August 16 vote the Duma will endorse Putin as premier without any problems. He does not believe that the process of confirming Putin’s candidacy will last long, for in that case Russia’s economy will inevitably be affected.

According to Chernomyrdin, the NDR Duma faction will support Putin during the vote.

MOSCOW AND TBILISI INVESTIGATE INTO THE INCIDENT WITH BOMBING GEORGIAN VILLAGES

Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, August 11, 1999, 11:30

A group of specialists of the Russian Defense Ministry have come to Georgia to investigate into the air-raid of Russian planes on several Georgian villages in the Akhmet district, not far from the borders with Chechnya and Dagestan. Foreign ministries of the two countries are also investigating into the incident through their channels.

In his interview to Rustavi-2 TV company, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili said that it remains to be seen yet whether the raid was an honest mistake or a deliberate action. Even if it was a mistake, Menagarishvili said, it does not absolve those guilty of it.

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